Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Hope for Kenya

Philanthropy is an essential part of our business model at Strong. Recently, the agency donated $5,000 to Hope For Kenya, a non-profit that focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty through education. We had the opportunity to speak with Philip Coltart, Executive Director of Hope for Kenya, and he shared some illuminating insights into the organization’s mission and the impact it’s making in Kenya. Some of you may recognize Philip’s name, as he is a longtime videography partner of Strong.

Hope for Kenya is not just about providing assistance to those in need but rather breaking the cycle of poverty that many people find themselves trapped in. Through their work in Africa, the organization has determined that education is the key to achieving this goal. While clean water, food, and nutrition are vital, education offers the opportunity to shift individuals from a survival mindset to one of growth, care, and hope.

Philip emphasizes that the true hope for Kenya lies within its people, particularly the young children who have the power to change their own lives and communities through education. Hope for Kenya’s flagship project, the Joy School, serves as a haven for these children who have lost their parents and are living in challenging circumstances. The school provides not only education but also full room and board, creating a nurturing environment where the students can thrive and see a brighter future for themselves.

The impact of education goes beyond the individual student. As Philip explains, when a young child receives education and support all the way to university, they don’t simply leave their community and find a job elsewhere. Instead, they return to their families and villages, bringing prosperity and positive change. This ripple effect transforms not only their own lives but also those of their entire family and community.

Strong’s recent $5,000 donation went to directly support this program – with tangible results. The funding has been used to help build a classroom at the Joy School, fostering an environment where education can flourish. Better yet, Strong’s donation has inspired others to match the pledge, demonstrating the power of collective action in creating lasting change. The organization recently reached its goal of $5,000 in matched donations.

Hope for Kenya relies not only on individual child sponsorships but also on the support of businesses like Strong. By understanding the behind-the-scenes challenges and the need for infrastructure improvements, Strong has made a significant impact. While sponsoring individual children is essential, supporting the backbone of the organization enables Hope for Kenya to continue its crucial work effectively.

Looking ahead, Hope for Kenya has ambitious goals. They aim to complete the Joy School up to the high school level, expanding their services to include 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. By guiding these students through their delicate teenage years, the organization can provide stability and prevent them from returning to a life of poverty.

We encourage you to visit Hope For Kenya’s Facebook page and Instagram account to learn more about their incredible work. You can also find additional information on their website.

All About the Summer SVMS

The days are quickly counting down to the next STRONG Virtual Marketing Summit (SVMS). Learn a little about why we host this event, and hear from Media on being involved in their first SVMS.

Why the SVMS?

In 2018, SAM began partnering with Google to host a series of educational summits for decision-makers in the automotive industry. Originally, these summits were held in person at Google’s offices in New York City and Austin, Texas. But as we all know, 2020 changed just about everything.

After pivoting to a virtual summit out of necessity, the SVMS team realized the scalability that virtual marketing events offered. Since hosting the first SVMS in the fall of 2021, SAM has grown an annual summit into a thrice-yearly event. It will be exciting to see how the event evolves in the future, but in the meantime, keep reading to see what’s in store for this month.

About the Summer 2022 SVMS

This summer’s SVMS will focus on the evolution of TV viewing. Speakers from SAM will discuss the best strategies for advertising on streaming services like Hulu, ESPN, and YouTube. They’ll also cover the benefits of Google’s Performance Max campaigns, Spanish advertising, and Linear Media.

The summit will take place on Thursday, July 28 at 10:30 a.m. SAM team members will have a chance to watch live, but please refrain from registering for the event. The internal link will be sent out on the 28th.

John Paul Strong, Stan Long, Jason Waters, and Casey Quattlebaum will speak at the event, covering all of the media-related topics listed above.

Up until this point, the SVMS has been primarily digital-focused. This marks the first time that Media has spearheaded the content, and they’ve done a phenomenal job helping craft scripts and angles.

“I am excited for Media to make its debut in this episode of SVMS!” Casey said. “I also enjoyed collaborating with my team. It forced us to think outside of the box and use our creative juices!”

Michele Alfano shared similar sentiments: “It was refreshing to collaborate on something a bit different for our team. The process from the first brainstorming session to the final scripts was great to be a part of. I can’t wait to see Casey shine in the final product!”

Liz Elder said of the project: “I was so proud of my team – Casey, Katie, and Michele – who pulled together, did a lot of research, and came up with strong content to make this episode of SVMS the best one yet! We collaborated to get the scripts written and worked so well together – each of us adding bits and pieces of information, graphics, research stats, and so on. We definitely stepped out of our comfort zones with this project. We were the embodiment of all 10 of SAM’s core values in this collaboration. It was challenging but rewarding all at the same time. We can’t wait to see the finished product!”

The SVMS project is led by Beth Nichols, with support from nearly every department in the agency. A lot goes into the planning, marketing, and implementing of each marketing summit. But the results have led to new clients, increased exposure, and higher engagement from our current dealers.

Stay tuned for the launch of the next SVMS!

Heard Around the Agency – July 2022

Learn what Team SAM has been up to lately, both in the office and at home.

Account Team

AT is celebrating both Hayley’s return from maternity leave and Holly Logan’s new arrival, baby Liam. The team is also excited about Sydney joining as the newest Account Coordinator, and wishes Rose good luck on her move to Texas.

“I was definitely nervous about coming back and leaving sweet baby James,” Hayley said. “But I really have been so happy being back. I missed my clients but especially my people.”

Rose shared the following about her move: “As of July 18, I will officially live below the Mason-Dixon Line. After 20 months and two freezing winters in Chicago, I am thankful to be heading back south. When the career opportunity was presented to my husband, it didn’t take us long to agree to relocate to Fort Worth. I will not miss those cold winters!”


Direct Contact

The DC team is excited to welcome its three new hires: Grace Bauder on eCampaigns, Anna Beth Heisler on Mail, and Rachel Mayo also on Mail. Welcome to the team!



Digital has had a busy month celebrating many promotions and new hires. The team has also enjoyed seeing photos of Summer’s new puppy, Coach.

My husband (Logan) has been begging me for a white Labrador Retriever ever since we got married,” Summer said. “I wasn’t on board at first because of our busy schedules, but I started looking at different breeders online just out of curiosity. On Saturday morning, I told Logan I was headed to the Pepper Place Market with a friend. Little did he know, I was actually headed to pick up our new pup. I came home and surprised Logan and he was shocked and thrilled! We are already so in love. The vet said he will be around 100 pounds.”





The Graphics team is getting ready to welcome two more members to the extended SAM fam. Alex Hendrix is expecting her first child in August, and Ryan and his wife are also expecting in September.



The team in Media is looking forward to Carly Corfman’s transition to the department, along with the addition of a new employee, Jordan Murphree, on July 18.

Media has also been busy working on the SVMS, which you can learn more about here.

How to Refer an Employee

They say that birds of a feather flock together. That’s exactly why SAM encourages employee referrals whenever there are open positions to fill. Better yet, employees can cash in on these referrals – with a $3,000 reward for a successful hire.

Like any referral program, there are some limitations. This article discusses why the employee referral program exists, stipulations necessary to claim the reward, and why it’s set up this way.

Let’s dig in!


Why Offer A Referral Bonus?

To make the best product, you have to have the best talent. And recruiting a quality workforce takes a considerable amount of resources. Referrals have the advantage of being pre-vetted by an existing employee who can serve as both a reference and an ambassador of the company. Referrals save the agency time and money sourcing talent, so in return, employees are rewarded for helping provide quality staffing.


How Do You Qualify for the Referral Bonus?

Before encouraging a friend to apply, it’s a good idea to check out the official Employee Referral Policy. And please note, SAM no longer allows the hiring of relatives.

The company will pay a $3,000 cash bonus to the employee who refers a candidate that is subsequently hired if one of the two requirements below is met exactly:

  1. Employee sends the candidate’s résumé directly to the COO and hiring managers prior to the candidate applying online.
  2. Candidate applies online and lists the employee’s name who referred them.

You are eligible to refer candidates after you have worked at SAM for at least 90 days.



Let’s look at a few examples of how this could play out.

Situation 1: Somebody applies for an open position via LinkedIn. They have edited their résumé to include a line saying, “referred by [SAM employee name].” In that case, the employee is eligible for the referral bonus.

Situation 2: A person applies via Indeed using their Indeed profile. It’s the candidate’s standard résumé, not customized and no message included. An employee emails their manager later that day recommending the applicant. Here, the employee is not eligible because the application was submitted before the referral was given.

Situation 3: An employee emails the COO and hiring managers the résumé of a candidate to refer. The candidate later applies via LinkedIn. Now, the employee is eligible because they submitted the referral before the candidate applied.

If you want to be eligible for the referral bonus, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you must communicate the referral before the candidate applies in any way. This ensures that SAM received the application due to an employee referral, not other job marketing channels.

When an employee referral works out, it’s great news for everyone. You’ve saved the agency time and money, earned yourself a bonus, and gotten your friend a job! By sticking to the referral policy, you can make sure you’re rewarded for the referrals you send SAM’s way.

Heard Around the Agency – May 2022

There’s always something exciting going on at SAM. Check out a few updates from our various departments below.

Account Team

  • Robin recently returned from a trip to Hawaii.
  • The team welcomed Carly as its newest Account Coordinator.
  • The SAM Kickball Team made it to the playoffs!
  • Baylee was inducted into the Junior League of Birmingham.



  • Celina’s wedding to Connor took place this month, followed by their honeymoon.


Direct Contact

  • Anna Beth and her husband Garrett are about to move into their first house, and they are so excited!
  • Rachel Mayo starts on our team tomorrow and will be working with Anna Beth in Mail. She comes with lots of experience and is eager to learn more about Mail and the company.

Where in the World is Strong

With the summer travel season approaching, here are a few reminders on how to participate in the Where in the World is Strong feature.
  1. SAM flags are available at Luke’s desk. Stop by to check one out before your trip.
  2. Take a photo with the flag during your travels.
  3. Send the photo to Celina and Luke to share on SAM’s social media.
Here’s an example of how they look:

Heard Around the Agency

There’s always something exciting going on at SAM. Check out a few updates from our various departments below.


  • The Production department celebrated the completion of Midtown Studio, located on the first floor of SAM’s headquarters. Due to flooding a few months back, some of the studio was damaged, giving us the opportunity to upgrade both the space and its equipment. You can read more about the studio redo in this article.


  • Elizabeth Rodriguez, Casey Quattlebaum, and Liz Elder have been working on their Google Analytics Certifications. They have been training via Skill Path with Google. The training has consisted of 15+ hours per person. After completing their training, they will test. Testing is online and will take about an hour and a half each. This will be a huge accomplishment for both the department and the agency!
  • In personal news, Liz has an upcoming mission trip planned with her daughter. And Katie Reeves is heading out West this June. Sheila Grandy-Morrison has started baking again, and is in talks to begin supporting a non-profit organization via her culinary craft.


  •  Bethany Alexander has been working with crochet and has an online shop where she sells various handcrafted crochet products. She also owns several chickens and is known to bring fresh eggs to share with the department.
  • Laura Dobbs is expanding her multilingual skills by studying French on her own.
  • Shelby Fields is learning exceptional time management skills by juggling completing her degree with full-time work at SAM.

Account Team

  • The team has been excited to celebrate Kelsey’s Plemmons’ recent engagement!


  • Rachel Blackerby is due to give birth any day now!
  • Erica Brock is getting married at the end of this month.

Launching #StrongTok

What began as an app for Gen Z dance challenges has turned into the most viral social media platform of 2022. Though it ranks as the sixth most-used social media platform globally, it was also 2021’s most-downloaded app. Its user base is rapidly expanding, taking hold of generations well beyond today’s college crowd.

Even more pertinent to us at SAM, TikTok has become a lucrative new platform for advertisers. Ads on the platform reach 18% of all internet users ages 18 and older. Consumer spending on TikTok increased a whopping 77% in 2021, totaling $2.3 billion.

SAM’s foray into the TikTok landscape serves two purposes. First, it gives our brand exposure to a new platform with a new audience. The video-only format of the app also lets us experiment with new tactics for sharing our brand story. Secondly, it serves as a sandbox for TikTok advertising, a feature the agency aims to roll out to clients in the near future. This represents an enormous opportunity for our clients to capture buyers in the infinite loop of purchasing.

Celina Leggiere has played a lead role in getting the company’s TikTok up and running, working with the Organic Social team to develop and execute the content strategy.

“I wanted to start STRONG TikTok to give SAM a new, fresh, and fun exposure on social media,” Celina said. “Running the account has been very fun and rewarding. It’s a nice break from the desktop, and it has been amazing watching staff from various departments come together to have fun with it. It has helped me grow creatively in more ways than one.”

Watch the Account and Join the Fun

TikTok is lighthearted by nature. If you’re interested in participating in some of SAM’s videos on the app, reach out to Celina for the next shoot!

You can see all of SAM’s TikToks here:

Reaching a Multilingual Audience

When you’re in the advertising business, you’re always looking for ways to make ads more effective. We spend countless hours adjusting strategy, A/B testing, and researching to find the best targeting. But one of the simplest things you can do to increase an ad’s response rate is to serve it in your audience’s mother tongue.

SAM Reaches Multilingual Audiences

While English is the predominant language in the U.S., you may be surprised to learn that it is only spoken at home by approximately 78% of the American population. This leaves a double-digit number of Americans who could be better reached in another language.

SAM recognized this opportunity to reach car buyers in the language that is most familiar to them. One of the more interesting languages the agency handles is Navajo. It is spoken primarily in the Southwestern U.S., especially in the Navajo Nation. Currently, only one client – Amigo Automotive – uses Navajo translations in its advertising. SAM works with each of the market’s three Navajo stations to provide 30-second English scripts that are then translated.

In the past, the agency has also handled pieces that were translated into Asian Indian languages for specific New Jersey markets.

Working With Hispanic Advertising

Of the multilingual advertising SAM has been involved with, Spanish-language ads are the most prevalent. The Production department works with a Hispanic talent agency to facilitate the ads. Typically, the talent agency sends SAM audio to edit together with our graphics. Recently, the team has begun working with two Hispanic spokeswomen to market to Texas and Florida accounts.

After assembling a spot, SAM outsources proofing to a trusted ally named Mohana Shull. She has been a partner of the agency for several years, and she provides valuable insight into the nuance of the language. Mohana checks the regional influences, specific dialects, and unspoken communication tendencies for a certain market region. She also provides suggestions for spelling and punctuation on the graphics, as well.

Since the agency does not currently employ an in-house Spanish proofer, partners like Mohana and the Hispanic talent agency allow us to keep a tight grip on quality control.

Hear Examples of Navajo Ads

Are you wondering what SAM’s Navajo-language ads sound like? You can listen for yourself here.

“The Navajo with Amigo has been a new experience,” said Traffic Manager Andrea Kring. “They market to different parts of the Navajo Nation with different styles of presentation. One is county, another rock-n-roll, and one just straightforward talk. No matter the style of their radio spots, they all feel amazing to hear in such a beautiful, ancient language.”

Social Takes on Turkeys

Each year, Mike Shaw Toyota (MST) in Corpus Christi, Texas, honors veterans and military personnel. The dealership’s favorite way of saying thank you is by providing Thanksgiving dinner for those who have served. Turkeys for Troops is a signature event and a key part of the partnership between MST and SAM.

Like many other events in the past 12 months, things looked a little different for the 2021 Turkeys for Troops. Paid Social Coordinator Brad Price and Social Media Assistant Celina Leggiere traveled to Corpus Christi to represent SAM and manage social media promotion for the event. Both have been working on MST’s social strategy and have built a relationship with the client.

“This is the 5th year MST has done Turkeys for Troops,” Brad said. “They passed out gift cards instead of actual turkeys this year. People could use it to get a smaller turkey and pair it with a ham if they wanted, or pick up other Thanksgiving sides and supplies.”

For both Brad and Celina, this was their first time traveling for SAM.

“I was very excited,” Celina said. “I’ve been handling MST’s reviews and comments on social platforms, so I had already forged a relationship with Cory. It was nice to actually meet him and the rest of his team.”

During the event, the two set up a system for enhancing MST’s social media reach. Brad was inside the dealership publishing content and interacting with fans online, while Celina was on the ground capturing photos and videos.

The team focused most heavily on video and live content. The most successful post highlighted a car given away to a military widow.

“It was really impactful to see her be taken care of,” Brad said of the giveaway.” Her husband died serving in Iraq in 2015.”

In addition to video strategies, the team used countdowns and boosted promotional posts in the days leading up to the event. Brad and Celina also made sure to collaborate with the event’s sponsors by tagging the companies to increase social reach.

“My favorite part was getting to spend so much time with the client, and the experience of seeing how a dealership operates on the back end,” Celina said.

“There was constantly something going on the day of,” Brad recounted. “That’s how I like to live my life, constantly busy like that.”

More than just a learning experience, Celina and Brad’s work at MST improved the client’s ability to drive traffic. Facebook page views for MST increased 225% the week of the event. And the dealership’s website saw an 8% overall increase in traffic.

Great job to Celina, Brad, and all who helped make MST’s Turkeys for Troops successful in its fifth iteration.